The death of a long-term coma victim has further inflamed the heated euthanasia debate in Italy.
Eluana Englaro died last night, four days after doctors at a private clinic removed the feeding tubes that were keeping her alive. She had been in a coma since a car crash 17 years ago. Outside the clinic pro- and anti-euthanasia groups argued their respective cases. The debate has become a moral, a legal and a political one. The left side of the political spectrum claims that Eluana is now “free,” as is her father, who fought a long legal battle to let her die. The conservative right led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and backed by the Vatican have said she did not die naturally but was killed. Some Catholic activists have called for an autopsy. They fear that doctors may have tried to accelerate her death before a law passed forcing them to start feeding her again.